South Asia News
Pakistan's coalition vows to oust President Musharraf
Aug 10, 2008, 8:25 GMT
Islamabad - Pakistan's ruling coalition on Sunday said its 'charge sheet' against President Pervez Musharraf will be compelling enough for the beleaguered leader to resign instead of defending his impeachment.
A session of the National Assembly, or lower house of the parliament, is scheduled for Monday evening to begin proceedings immediately after Musharraf is forced through the electoral college to seek a confidence vote.
Coalition leaders on Sunday were preparing the document containing the charges against the president, who has been accused of violating the constitution, gross misconduct, and pushing the country to the verge of economic collapse.
'I hope Mr. Musharraf will resign voluntarily for the complete restoration of the constitution, survival of the nation and strengthening of democracy,' Law Minister Farooq H Naek told reporters before joining the review meeting.
Corroborating evidence is being attached to the charge sheet which, according to Naek, will eliminate the need for investigating the accusations.
Asif Ali Zardari, who succeeded Benazir Bhutto as the chief of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) after her assassination on December 27, flanked by the junior coalition partner and former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, on Thursday announced the plan to impeach Musharraf.
After winning the February 18 elections overwhelmingly but without an overall majority, the PPP formed a coalition government with Sharif's runner-up Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
But the coalition's relations were strained when Zardari wobbled over the reinstatement of more than 60 judges, including chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who were sacked by Musharraf in his emergency decree last November.
Now the coalition partners have agreed to restore the justices, once they are done with the ouster of the president.
Analysts say Musharraf's departure from the presidency will not be a simple one because of several influencing factors, including the covert military support for him and the stance of international powers. The president is a key US ally in the war against Islamic extremists.
Musharraf, a former military chief with service in the army's special forces, is carefully considering his options, but is believed to have ruled out the possibility of exercising his powers to dissolve the parliament to escape impeachment.
Political supporters of the embattled leader have also advised him against using the Article 58(2)b of the country's constitution dealing with the dissolution, saying in would not be supported by anyone.
'He is left with two options; either to face the impeachment motion like a man or resign and go home quietly,' said Mushahid Hussain, a vocal supporter of Musharraf, who used to side with Sharif before his government was toppled in a 1999 military coup.
Many fear that a head-on collision between Musharraf and the coalition partners will send Pakistan's restored democratic process into a tailspin, directly affecting the deteriorating economic and security situation.